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Back to the Halfbike

Running appeared to be going well, but a 4 mile run on Thursday aggravated my ankle and hip again, so rather than the planned long run on Saturday I decided it was time to bring out the Halfbike again.

If you haven’t read my previous posts on the Halfbike, it’s effectively a standing bike with a larger front wheel and two small rear wheels – balance is key to riding and steering. I am a Halfbike ambassador and have coupon codes for 5% off. I do get a commission for codes used, but as I’ve noted before this does not affect my reviews.

As part of the original sales campaign on Kickstarter, Halfbike was supposed to come with fenders – a year and a half after getting the Halfbike, the fenders finally arrived after a myriad of design and production problems.

I put the fenders on this week, not expecting to ride for a while, but luckily (I guess) it rained overnight so there were puddles on the ground for my Saturday ride.

Attaching the fenders was simple, but putting the pieces together for the rear fenders was not at all. In the end I used a rubber mallet to force the pieces together. The fit was a bit tight.

I wasn’t too bothered by not having fenders as I use it for exercise and don’t care how muddy and wet I get when riding, but I have to admit to not having used it in the rain and I did wonder how far up the front wheel would fling the water, so I no longer have to worry about getting a mouthful.

They seemed to work well – I deliberately rode through the puddles – but I did still get a slight spatter on my ankle so they don’t fully protect you.

My ride was about 10.5 miles and by the end my calves were definitely feeling it.

Halfbike FAQ

Since I have been a Halfbike Ambassador I have been asked a lot of questions so I’m going to try to address the most common ones since my original review.

  1. Do you still use the Halfbike?
    1. Yes, but not as much as I should. I was trying to run more often so it got set aside except for the occasional ride to the park with the kids. I got back on it for exercise a couple of weeks ago before my club run, and decided that I really do need to use it more – it was hard work. I guess I was in better shape, or maybe it’s just that my calf muscle issues (very tight right now) made it feel harder. I decided to stop after 2 miles (and then ran 6).
  2. Is the Halfbike good for commuting?
    1. I don’t think I’d be confident enough to do that in high traffic areas or areas with fast traffic without a reasonable amount of space at the side of the road. A large pothole can easily cause problems (although not drastic ones as it is easy to step/jump off if you get unstable) so I’d want to know I had the space to deal with it. If it’s on quiet roads, sure. I prefer to use my folding bike for my commute in Manhattan.
  3. Will the Halfbike fit in my car?
    1. It should – I have a large SUV and don’t even need to fold it. Folded I would imagine it fits easily in most. I did have a smaller car, and to avoid folding it I moved forward the front passenger seat and just put it in behind the seats.
  4. How difficult is it to ride long distances on the Halfbike?
    1. As with any activity you will need to build up at the pace that is right for you. I was able to go from a couple of miles to several miles, to 11 miles early in the year using it regularly. I plan to try to do something similar again so I will update to let you know how I get on when I get around to it.
  5. How hard is it to learn?
    1.  It took me about 15 minutes or so to get moving on it, then about the same to get used to turns (and I still feel like I’m trying to master that – for tight turns at least). I taught a neighbor of mine to move on it in about 10 minutes, and she was turning shallow corners soon after that.
  6. Would you recommend the single or 3-speed version?
    1. I think I would consider the 3-speed if I were to buy a new one, but the only time I’ve wanted it is on steeper hills or at times when I’ve been forced to stop part way up a hill (because it’s impossible, or really tough, to get started again).
  7. Does the Halfbike come with fenders?
    1.  Fenders were, and apparently still are, planned. However, production issues mean that these are still in the development phase. They are hoping to make them available in the coming months, but with a lengthy delay already behind them, it’s not clear at all when that will be.
  8. I have back/neck/other pain – will the Halfbike be okay for me?
    1. I don’t know, sorry!
  9. Do you still have a coupon code?
    1. Yes, email to ask me for a discount code for 5% off and ask any questions you still have. The codes are single use.
  10. Do you get a commission from the makers of Halfbike?
    1. Yes, that’s part of being an ambassador, you get a discount, and for helping you make the decision I get a commission. I do treat all questions seriously and will say if I am not sure it is right for you. I’ve also been happy to help people who have been looking to buy used ones they have found online. I like to think I am not swayed by the deal in how I respond to people – for example, I will say that if you are just wanting it for commute, consider a folding bike instead. It is certainly the case that not everyone has bought one after contacting me.

Halfbike – a review

I have been asked quite a few questions over the last couple of months about the Halfbike, so please see my FAQ posted on October 25, 2016 for an update.

Until this year I’d never had anything happen that stopped me running for any length of time. It was fortunate that I happened to have bought a Halfbike from a Kickstarter campaign, and it had arrived just a couple of months before.

It was also fortunate that I was able to use this while I wasn’t able to run (the muscle issues I had didn’t seem to manifest themselves when using this).

When I first got it (back in November) it took about half an hour to put together, and then about 10 minutes of failing to stay on before I was able to comfortably ride up and down the street.

After this it pretty much got ignored for the winter until February where I had issues that prevented me from running for a few weeks, right in the middle of marathon training. I substituted my training runs with riding the halfbike, joining my running club group runs on it (although eventually I did get too fast to stay with them so would circle around to rejoin), and honestly having fun. I successfully managed to get through 11 miles of riding, which I had initially thought would be difficult.

Out with the club

It was also perfect for riding with the kids

It was also perfect for riding with the kids

Luckily I was able to get back to running with about a month to go before the marathon, but had to build up slowly so I was still making use of the Halfbike.

Overall, the marathon was a success, I got through it comfortably and I don’t doubt it was because I was able to keep my fitness level up using this.

Following this I was happy to be chosen as a Halfbike ambassador – I have taught friends how to ride and can offer a 5% discount code to anyone who is interested in buying one. If you’re in NJ, and we happen to be at the same races, or if you can make it to an RVRR run, I’d be happy to bring it along to let you try it out. Alternatively, if you’re already sold on it, ask me for a discount code.

EDIT: Since I posted the following statement, it seems that you can buy the single speed again – I’m assuming that at the time it was out of stock or something – I have the single speed but now I believe that it only comes in a 3 speed option (which means I wouldn’t have to get off when going up the hills – the single speed can make that difficult)

I have been asked quite a few questions over the last couple of months about the Halfbike, so please see my FAQ posted on October 25, 2016 for an update.

 

Cautiously coming off rest

I hadn’t meant to leave it this long to update on progress. Originally when I signed up for the Newport 10k again as an official blog partner, I was hoping that the race might be my comeback. In my last blog post I explained why I was taking some time off.

I was stretching, doing core work, riding the Halfbike, doing classes at the gym, etc. in the meantime but my muscles remain (seemingly) as tight as ever. A couple of weeks ago I was very surprised to notice that my ankle was slightly swollen again. How was that possible? If I had run I would have put it down to that again, but this time I hadn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary and it’s been a couple of months since I finally shook that off.

The swelling didn’t last long, but I decided it was enough to call for a visit to the doctor. He sent me for some blood work which all came back clear and is sending me to PT, so we’ll see where that leads.

In the meantime, if it’s not the running causing the problem, I might as well get out to run again. I started by keeping it short, with only about 2.5 miles at a time (about when my lower back starts aching slightly), I’ve extended runs this week to just over 3 miles, with one run of almost 4.5 miles but my Achilles tendonitis has returned.

My speed won’t be there for Newport, or any other race I’m signed up so far, which includes the Grape Gallop on April 23rd (see my last post for a coupon code for any of the 3 Grape Gallop races this year), but it looks like I will probably be there if I can keep things under some sort of control.

Time to rest and reset

Today I did this:

Despite overall progress I decided it was better for the long-term for me not to run a half marathon.

My 6 mile run this weekend, shorter than planned, ended with some pain in my ankle. The pain did go away when I stopped running, but it was enough for me to review my strategy. For weeks now I have made improvements to then find some twinge of pain creeping back in.

It’s time to rest (or at least, to not run).

I’m going to use the next few weeks to make more progress on flexibility, upper body strength, and improve any imbalances. I will make a plan to gradually come back into running. I will have to be restrained. In the last month or so I have probably tried to do too much (and I knew it at the time), but when I felt good I wanted to do more, most likely due to the NYC Half that was on my calendar.

Now it looks like my first race of the year will probably be the Newport 10k

In the meantime I’m hoping the Halfbike can keep me in shape enough to make it a fast one.